Top story: Closing parliament ‘grave abuse of power’
Good morning – Warren Murray with a fresh batch of stories for Tuesday.
Jeremy Corbyn is to host a meeting of opposition leaders and other senior parliamentarians today as he seeks to put himself at the forefront of efforts to stop no deal. Politics editor Heather Stewart writes that it appears Corbyn may be willing to support Boris Johnson in calling a general election – but the Labour leader is being called on to do so only if an extension of article 50 has been secured first and a 31 October no-deal Brexit averted.
The shadow attorney general and barrister Shami Chakrabarti has given legal advice to Corbyn that if Boris Johnson shuts down parliament to force through a hard Brexit, it would be the “gravest abuse of power and attack on UK constitutional principle in living memory”. Johnson has refused to rule out proroguing parliament, instead calling for “parliamentarians to do the right thing” and not further delay Brexit. As the G7 summit concludes, Heather Stewart explains what we learned from Johnson’s performance – most of all, that this is his dream job “and he is absolutely loving it”.
‘False and dangerous’ – Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $572m in compensation in the state of Oklahoma for running a “false and dangerous” sales campaign that drove America’s deadly opioid epidemic. The judgment is the first of its kind against the drug industry in the United States, where a raft of opioid makers, distributors and pharmacy chains face more than 2,000 other lawsuits. The Oklahoma judge found Johnson & Johnson acted in concert with other companies to escalate prescriptions by pushing the false narrative that there was a desperate need for painkillers and “there was a low risk of abuse and a low danger of prescribing opioids”. Opioid prescribing peaked in 2012 at about 250m prescriptions, one for every American adult.
‘Outrageous persecution’ – The Australian novelist and former Chinese diplomat Yang Hengjun has been charged with espionage in Beijing. Yang has been detained in China since January, and is being held in Beijing by the ministry of state security. The Australian embassy has been informed that Yang has been formally charged, “suspected of committing espionage crimes”. Dr Feng Chongyi, an academic at the University of Technology Sydney and a friend of Yang’s who was previously detained and interrogated by authorities in China over a study trip, said there was no evidence to support any allegation of spying against Yang. “I am furious at the news,” he said. “This is outrageous political persecution. I hope the international community will join hands to demand the release of Yang.”
VW loses its saviour – Ferdinand Piech, the Porsche family patriarch who transformed Volkswagen into a global powerhouse, has died at the age of 82. He was the grandson of sports car and VW Beetle pioneer Ferdinand Porsche. Born in Vienna, Piech was a brilliant engineer who led VW from 1993 to 2002 before becoming head of the supervisory board until 2015. After becoming boss of VW he gambled on a modular construction technique that allowed Audi, Skoda and VW to share up to 65% of their parts. He developed the Porsche 917 with a radical 600 horsepower air-cooled 12-cylinder engine that became of the most successful race cars in history, and was known for stoking internal rivalries to his own advantage – “It is not possible to take a company to the top by focusing on the highest level of harmony,” said Piech, who fathered 12 children with four different women.
Hot, then fresh – Heatwave conditions are set to continue for some parts of the UK, with southern and eastern parts expected to see a fourth day of temperatures in the early 30s today. It is expected to remain largely dry with scattered showers and fresher air gradually moving in from the south-west coast and through the midlands. The Met Office said heavy rain and thunderstorms could come later in the week. A high of 33.2C (91.7F) at Heathrow yesterday made it the hottest August bank holiday Monday on record.
On the bright side – Being optimistic has been linked to a longer life, with those who see the glass as half full having a better chance of reaching 85 or older. Optimists also have a longer life in general, according to Boston University medical researchers who analysed data from two previous long-term research projects. They found the most optimistic women had a lifespan almost 15% longer than the least, while for men the difference was 11%. Previous research has suggested people who are more optimistic might lead a healthier lifestyle – once that was taken into account, the most optimistic men and women still had a 9-10% longer lifespan.
Lunchtime read: The manufacturing of immigration panic
“A battle is being fought today in the public squares, at political conventions, on the television, in the opinion pages: a battle of storytelling about migrants,” writes Suketu Mehta. “The recent elections across the world illustrate the power of populism: a false narrative, a horror story about the other, well told. In all the rich countries, people think immigrants are a much bigger share of the population than they really are. A quarter of the French, one in five Swedes and one in seven Americans think immigrants get twice as much in benefits as the native-born – it is not remotely true in any of these countries.
“But there are also countertrends and counterexamples. Multiple studies have found that people who have direct contact with immigrants have much more positive views about them. And there are leaders who welcome migrants: France elected the unapologetically pro-immigrant Emmanuel Macron, while Germany under Angela Merkel welcomed a million refugees in 2015. In Canada Justin Trudeau’s government declared its intention to increase immigration and the economy had the strongest growth in the G7 in 2017. When countries safeguard the rights of minorities, they also safeguard the rights and economic wellbeing of their majorities, or other minorities within the majority. The obverse is also true: when they don’t safeguard the rights of minorities, every other citizen’s rights are in peril.”
In the biggest summer in English cricket history Ben Stokes has stood head and shoulders above the rest, says Moeen Ali. He was literally stopping games around the whole country. Hours after the Test had finished, Jack Leach was prevailed upon to re‑enact the greatest single of his career. Meanwhile, Guardian cricket writers are weighing in on whether Stokes’s century was the great Test innings of all time.
A few hours after the unveiling of a statue to honour the great Althea Gibson, the American’s spiritual heir, Venus Williams, progressed to the second round of the US Open in a blistering hour and six minutes. Sir Bradley Wiggins has revealed he is taking a degree in social work as he looks to redefine himself after his cycling career.
Asian markets have been in better shape today amid an easing of trade war rhetoric. The FTSE100 is expected to open down a fraction after the bank holiday break while sterling is flat at $1.222 and €1.100.
The Guardian leads on its exclusive: “‘Grave abuse of power’ if PM shuts parliament to force no-deal Brexit”.
The Express and the Mirror are both celebrating “exclusive” stories about Ben Stokes thanking his “brilliant wife” for her support. “My rock” is the Mirror’s headline. While the Express teases the Stokes interview, its splash is Boris Johnson’s plan to flood the House of Lord with “Brexit heroes” who will be made peers. A story the i also leads on: “PM will pick Brexiteer peers to reset Lords”.
The Times has: “Archbishop warned not to interfere with Brexit” and the FT says: “Trump open to Iran meeting as Macron seeks new nuclear deal”. The Telegraph reports: “Taller masts to banish mobile blind spots” while the Mail has: “Health tourists’ £150m in unpaid NHS bills”. Meanwhile, one feels like the editors at the Sun didn’t quite think through the headline they put on their story about One Direction star Harry Styles admitting to taking magic mushrooms: “Fungirection”.
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